游戏中的社交媒介如今已是无处不在，因此要回忆起Facebook、YouTube及Twitter之前的时代实在有些强人所难。但通过社交媒介渠道的游戏营销科学目前还处在起步阶段。实践者依然被贴上“先锋”标签，尽管如PopCap社论和社交媒介主管Jeff Green所述，“还没有所谓的社交媒介专家。”他们在忙碌中学习，偶尔会同他们的主管发生冲突，偶尔会赢得数百万全球用户的欣赏、追随，进而最终购买他们的产品。虽然社交媒介有效服务于《Minecraft》和《Dead Island》之类的作品，但不是所有人都正确把握这一平台。
关于主流营销方面，游戏公司完全是局外人，就“Marketing Week UK Engage”奖项的候选名单来判断。5月份公布的提名者和游戏活动或游戏公司完全没有关系。
《Marketing Week UK》编辑Ruth Mortimer表示，从列表中我们可以感受到游戏的存在。她表示，“许多各种类型的品牌公司都以游戏元素作为他们游戏的一部分。例如，Public Sector类别的候选者GCHQ开展融入众多游戏元素的招聘活动，旨在激发潜在雇员的兴趣，而Digital类别的候选者国民托管组织则将游戏作为他们虚拟农场网站的一部分。”
但这不是所有发行商所希望的。社交媒介营销的另一重要优点是，它是发行商无需通过社论平台（游戏邦注：例如杂志和网站）控制信息的渠道。5月，EA于自己的社交媒介渠道发布《FIFA 13》。消息随后才出现在Twitter和Facebook上。当他们在自己的Facebook页面上添加首个官方画面时，少数图像已在7分钟里被“赞”了1607次。“赞”和评论数量持续增加。这对于掌握发行消息、图像运用方式和准确发行日期的营销人员来说是个好消息。但有趣的是，有许多评论称，《FIFA 13》画面与其先前作品《FIFA 12》存在惊人相似之处。毕竟，社交媒介营销只能够让发行商过滤信息，而无法过滤反应。
由于社交媒介主要围绕会就信息做出反应的用户群体，无视这些用户而盲目追求庞大数据是个危险的商业行为。我们很容易陷入数字陷阱中，有些在线平台推崇短期主义。例如，Promethium Marketing的《刺客信条:启示》衍生内容“Discover Your Legacy”就属于Shortys类别的游戏作品，“Discover Your Legacy”主要瞄准这一系列的“狂热粉丝”。他们的Facebook应用制作了游戏的个性化幕后故事视频，通过Open Graph API融入目标数据，其中包括用户宗教观点、地理位置及“好友”。
据Promethium表示，在几周里，就有超过17.5万的这类视频在45多万好友中进行分享。这是个简单活动，即便“融入深层次个性信息的更巧妙算法”听起来不像是是好友会做的事情（通过社交媒介之类的方式）。但“Discover Your Legacy”是对社交媒介的粗浅运用。无疑有很多用户会同品牌公司进行互动，但数量不等同于粘性或喜欢。你应该思考，这些玩家听到自己被贴上狂热粉丝标签会有什么反应，这一称呼的隐含意义是没大脑。
开发者Markus “Notch” Persson也许没有社交媒介战略。但他从如下实况中受益匪浅：社交媒介的真正玩家并非制作游戏的人士，或是有偿推广内容的人士，而是玩家自身。用户可以在Twitter上分享内容，在YouTube上分享视频，或是通过博客娱乐和吸引用户。这类活动需要耗费数百万成本，需要庞大的营销机器。这并不是说，粉丝会参与此工业规模的社交媒介营销。
MCV备受赞誉的《Dead Island》社交媒介活动的幕后负责人表示，他也“获得”社交媒介，但就连他也面临需达到的绝对数值目标。Koch Media高级在线营销经理Jörg Spormann表示，僵尸射击游戏的成功让他颇为惊讶，游戏预告片在社交媒介上发布后引起巨大轰动。
相比各行业的社交媒介营销投入，这一规模相当庞大。据数字代理商NetBooster协助完成的“UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report 2012”调查报告显示，在受调查的500位数字营销人员和代理商中，有60%采用社交媒介营销。但作为整体营销预算的一部分，社交媒体营销仅占9%的总开支，这是相比其他付费搜索(22%)和搜索引擎优化（20%）的在线成本而言。
事实上，在线支出和传统支出的界限很难划分。《Marketing Week UK》编辑Ruth Mortimer问道：“什么是传统营销？”“目前，多数营销活动都包含众多元素。你也许会举行包含Twitter标签的电视活动，推动社交媒介上的沟通活动，隔天发布若干在线旗帜广告，以及在各大城市树立有关下载某些内容的数字户外海报。”社交媒介营销如今已变成营销活动的一部分，即便它是活动中的被动构成要素。
Spormann承认，《Dead Island》的社交媒介成功只是源自于游戏本身。“产品包含美妙背景（游戏邦注：热带岛屿），同僵尸相结合。”Axis Animation的优秀视频也没有因此受损。
Marketing games on social media
By Lee Hall
The battle for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is a fight for an audience on largely uncharted territory, but who in games ‘gets’ social media?
Social media in games – social media in our lives, for that matter – is so pervasive it’s a stretch to remember a time before Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. But the science of marketing games via social media channels is in its relative infancy. Practitioners can still be labelled ‘pioneers’, though “there’s no such thing as a social media expert,” says PopCap’s director of editorial and social media Jeff Green. They are learning on the fly, at times clashing with their bosses and at others inspiring global audiences of millions to like, follow and ultimately buy their products. And while social media has worked spectacularly well for the likes of Minecraft and Dead Island, not everyone is getting it right.
As many a digital marketer will tell you, social media should not be about the short game. Platforms such as Google+, Pinterest and their older brethren should be a means to opening dialogue with an audience. Social media is a chance to talk with fans, update followers and create a feedback loop which will improve future games and engage players. That’s a message that is yet to trickle through to many publishers, according to some critics.
Chris Lake, director of product development at Econsultancy, which provides intelligence to marketing companies, fears some games companies just don’t ‘get’ social media. He says: “A lot of social media for marketing is designed to ‘big up’ games before or when they are released. That suggests agencies are telling brands what to do.” Those agencies are paid-for campaigns based on measurable Return On Investment (ROI) data such as YouTube views.
For Lake, publishers aren’t engaging in a dialogue; their traffic is all one way. He adds: “Game manufacturers are a bit behind the curve in terms of taking notice. I wish they’d use social media to engage. That’s what people at social media conferences talk about – listening and engaging. Flowery words, but it’s a point we sometimes take for granted.”
Games companies are out of the loop when it comes to mainstream marketing respect, judging by the shortlist for the prestigious Marketing Week UK Engage awards. None of the nominees for the honours, dished out in May, was for a game campaign or company.
Marketing Week UK editor Ruth Mortimer says the presence of games is felt in the list. “It appears that many brands from all different categories are using elements of gaming as part of their marketing,” she tells us. “For example, the shortlisted Public Sector entry for GCHQ involved a recruitment hunt containing many game elements to intrigue future employees, while the National Trust was shortlisted in the Digital category for using gaming as part of its virtual farm website.
“So I think that gaming as a way of interacting with people has simply become more widely used by all kinds of brands, not just game companies.”
That raises the question of whether the game industry is truly behind the curve in terms of social media marketing, or whether ours is a special, compelling case. After all, it seems marketing has as much to learn from games as games have to learn from marketing.
The relationship between social media and games is certainly more complicated than the simple transmission of information to a captive audience of customers. Opportunities to drop beacons to connect with fellow gamers, or established mechanics such as uploading user generated content to social media channels, are examples of networks enhancing a player’s experience. They are also a marketer’s dream.
“Look at Call Of Duty,” says Lake. “Players upload videos of cool moments in the game. There are millions of these fan videos on YouTube. That’s what brands want – customers to be doing their marketing for them.”
And that’s not all publishers want. Another key advantage of social media marketing is that it represents a means for publishers to control the message without going through editorialised channels such as magazines and websites. In May, EA announced FIFA 13 on its own social media channels. The news was trailed on Twitter and Facebook. When they added first official screens to their Facebook page, the handful of images had been liked 1,607 times within seven minutes. The ticker of likes, and comments, kept spinning. That’s a good news story for marketers, who had a grip on the release of information, the way the images were used and the exact timing of the announcement. Interestingly, however, a significant proportion of comments noted a striking similarity between the FIFA 13 screens and its predecessor FIFA 12. After all, social media marketing only enables publishers to filter the message, not the response.
Since social media is about networks of people who will respond – sometimes negatively – to your message, chasing big numbers without listening to those people is a dangerous business. And the numbers trap is an easy one to tumble into, given short-termism is positively lauded by some online. Promethium Marketing, for instance, scooped the Games category in the Shortys – dished out to those creating the best content in social media – for their Assassin’s Creed: Revelations campaign, Discover Your Legacy, which targeted “rabid fans” of the series. Their Facebook app creates a personalised video backstory to the game, using the social network’s Open Graph API to pull in targeted data including a user’s religious views, location and their ‘best friends’.
Over 175,000 such videos were shared to over 450,000 friends in a few weeks, according to Promethium. It was a neat campaign, even if the gleeful language describing a “clever algorithm pulling deeply personal information” hardly sounds like the sort of thing a friend – via social media or otherwise – would do. But Discover Your Legacy represents a shallow use of social media. Thousands of people interacted with the brand, sure, but numbers do not equal engagement, or love. And you have to wonder how those gamers would respond to being labelled as rabid, with all its connotations of mindlessness.
The current dynamic shortlist for the Shorty Award for gaming is dominated by indie publishers, a sector for which social media offers a golden opportunity to compete with cash-rich rivals. Certainly indies seem more inclined to listen – via social media or otherwise – to their audience. To be successful they don’t really have a choice. They ‘get’ social media because they have to. Mojang, for instance, built in ‘listening’ when planning Minecraft’s development schedule, releasing a beta version of the game, heeding feedback and ultimately transforming their product from a small scale curio into a global hit.
Developer Markus “Notch” Persson might not have had a social media strategy. However, he benefitted from the fact that the real players in social media aren’t the people making games, or the people paid to market them, but the gamers themselves. The audience can share content on Twitter, videos on YouTube – by their millions – or amuse and sometimes bemuse their audience through podcasting. That kind of campaign would cost millions and require a vast marketing machine. Not that fans are likely to buy into social media marketing on this industrial scale.
“My strong belief is that these things don’t work unless you are really able to get away from a scripted message and talk to real fans,” says Jeff Green. “When I was at EA and the stakes were so high, the idea of saying what I wanted wasn’t very realistic.”
Green, a prolific and often outspoken tweeter, achieved notoriety by blogging and creating rich media content for EA, then PopCap. He is focused on doing social media the right way. He ‘gets’ it – and is comfortable saying ‘no’ at times to EA marketing officials who want him to push a franchise in his podcasts or on social media channels.
Green established his modus operandi even before he started work at PopCap. “We created the job and I wanted the editorial element in the title. I’m in the marketing department but I cover both areas.” For Jeff, social media marketing must be built on genuine relationships and founded on editorial integrity.
Fortunately he’s not alone in that view. EA has, he says, moved on since they first parted ways. And other games publishers have got to grips with social media marketing, combining the short termism of a launch push with the special benefits derived from cultivating a long-term relationship.
The man behind the MCV award-winning Dead Island social media campaign claims he ‘gets’ social media too, but even he was given absolute numbers to chase. Koch Media’s senior online marketing manager Jörg Spormann says he was stunned by the success of the zombie shooter, which caused a major stir after its launch trailer (above) appeared on social media.
The company wanted 100,000 Facebook fans by launch and a million views for the announcement video on YouTube. They smashed those targets, amassing 400,000 Facebook fans and almost 10 million trailer views, with another four million watching the trailer in reverse. In the US they targeted Twitter, in the UK Facebook was a key channel and in Germany – Koch’s home territory – they favoured a more mixed approach.
“One of the benefits of social media strategy is you can shift the goals or adapt during the campaign,” Spormann says. And shift it they did, pouring resources into a campaign that was spectacularly bearing fruit – so much so that equal resources were spent on traditional forms of marketing and social media.
That’s huge compared to the typical spend on social media marketing across all industries. The UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report 2012, carried out in association with digital agency NetBooster, found that 60% of 500 digital marketers and agencies surveyed use social media marketing. But as a proportion of the overall marketing budget, social media marketing accounted for just 9 per cent of total spend, compared with the other big online costs of paid search (22 per cent) and search engine optimisation (20 per cent).
In fact, the distinction between online spend and traditional spend is hard to draw. “What is traditional marketing?” asks Ruth Mortimer, editor of Marketing Week UK. “These days, the majority of marketing campaigns have multiple elements. You might run a TV campaign with a Twitter hashtag to get conversation going on social media, following it up with some online banner advertising the next day and a digital outdoor poster offering a download of some content in major cities.” Social media marketing is now part of the landscape, even if it can be a relatively passive element of a campaign.
Of course the low spend on social media marketing could be down to the fact that – done correctly – reaching people via those channels is cheap. An engaged audience of content creators and sharers costs essentially nothing, and in many cases it’s the personality and knowhow of the head a social media machine that can have such a profound impact on its success. That reliance on a charismatic individual, however, is not without its problems.
“I had a notorious tantrum about the state of one of our games,” says Green of his stint at EA. “I was being real about a problem in the game. It was a stupid thing to do. I could have brought that up internally and figured it out. It was an immature response, but Lord knows I’m not the first one that blurted something out on Twitter.”
Public though that misjudgment was, Green claims he has at least learned “when to shut my mouth.” Not that he’s timid about taking aim at companies, including his own employers, via social media. EA, it seems, was all too aware that placing its brand in the hands of a sometime hilarious, sometimes edgy, never shy and retiring social media expert could harm them almost as much as it could help.
In September 2010 Green left EA and might have returned to what he describes as ‘serious journalism’, but for the opportunity to join PopCap. “It boiled down to the fact that EA and I, in retrospect, acknowledged that I was a bit ahead of my time in terms of the things I wanted to do there. I was probably pushing too much and they were a little conservative.”
But the social media success of a game is not all down to the people pushing it. Would Minecraft, for instance, have been a hit if it wasn’t developed openly, or if it hadn’t been championed by communities and journalists? Possibly not. But you can only build buzz around a game that is interesting, different or brilliant. It has to be the quality of the game that partially determines whether a video goes viral or sales are driven by a tidal wave of social media support.
Spormann acknowledges that the social media success of Dead Island was only possible because of the nature of the game itself. “The product featured a wonderful setting – the tropical island – and that was combined with the zombies.” The award-winning video by Axis Animation didn’t hurt either.
There was no secret to the mechanics of the long tail of the Dead Island campaign, which continues to engage users. “We want to show them how cool the island looks. How the monsters were reacting – focusing on that key aspect in videos,” says Spormann. It’s a simple and successful strategy that responded to the audience’s thirst for watching twitching undead creatures meet their doom.
Spormann appears to ‘get’ the central principle of social media. Give people compelling, original content and they will lap it up. Listen to their feedback and you’ll build a relationship that can last. It’s a simple, familiar message, but for some people it still doesn’t seem to be getting through.（Source：edge-online）